Saturday, August 31, 2013
On November 6, 1985, thirty-five terrorists from the M-19 terrorist group stormed the Supreme Court building of the South American nation of Colombia and held around 300 people hostage. Included in that number where both supreme court justices and other political leaders. Negotiations failed and it appeared an assault would be required. Hours after the attack, an initial assault was made by the Colombian Army resulting in freed hostages and neutralized terrorists on the first two floors of the building. The following day a final assault took place. When the building was retaken and the terrorist threat eradicated, the death toll reached 120 (including innocents, 11 justices, 48 military members, and terrorists). There was significant damage to both the building and many of the records it housed. When the terrorist assault occurred, there was no real special operations level unit in the Colombian military or police force. This terrible event was a catalyst for creating a special forces capability throughout the Colombian military and law enforcement community.
Colombia has experienced additional terrorism since, and continues to face threats from a number of terrorist groups within its borders. Each military branch and most police units of the larger cities in the nation currently have well trained special operations units. In this blog post, we will briefly highlight the Colombian Army's AFEUR (Agrupacion de Fuerzas Especiales Antiterroristas Urbanas), or Urban Counter Terrorist Special Forces Group.
The AFEUR main unit headquarters and training facilities are located near the capital, Bogota. Smaller sub-units exist, posted in various larger, urban areas throughout the country. Colombia has a fairly large number of SF capable units in its various military branches and law enforcement divisions, with very specific operational purposes and capabilities including kidnapping prevention and interdiction, hostage rescue, and narcotics eradication and enforcement. AFEUR has a particular focus on direct action/assaults, hostage rescue, and personnel protection, all in the context of counter-terrorism. The unit was tasked with providing security for U.S. President Clinton during his visit in 2000, and President Bush in 2004. AFEUR also routinely provides this service for Colombian political officials including the President. Political officials and government buildings are likely targets for terrorist operations, so it makes sense that AFEUR would be trained for and assigned to focus on this type of operation.
The AFEUR main unit is composed of around 100 members, coordinated in 15 man teams that include 2 officers and 13 operators. AFEUR uses a wide variety of weapons; in regard to battle rifles, operators commonly use the AR platform weapons (usually the M16A2 and M4) and the IMI/IWI TAR (Tavor) in various configurations. Because of the ongoing and real threat of terrorism faced by the Colombian people and AFEUR members, the unit has a very high training and operational schedule. Their choice of these two battle rifles shows a confidence in the ability of these weapons to be dependable in the defense of life and nation.
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